By Rachael Grealish
During the Coronavirus daily briefing the Prime Minister has solidified his backing of Dominic Cummings after he fell under accusations of breaking lockdown, twice.
Boris Johnson came under pressure over Cummings traveling to 260 miles to County Durham and then seen in Barnard Castle while he and his family were meant to be self isolating.
Today, Sunday May 24, said his political aide has acted ‘responsibly, legally and with integrity and with the overall aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives’.
The PM said: “I can tell you today I have had extensive face to face conversations with Dominic Cummings, I have concluded that in travelling to find the right kind of care at the moment when both he and his wife were about to be incapacitated by Coronavirus, and when he had no alternative, I think he followed the instincts of every father.
“I do not mark him down for that.”
As with some of his ministers, he backed the the architect of the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign by saying allegations made against Cummings were ‘false’.
He said: “Though there have been many other allegations about what happened when he was in self-isolation and thereafter, some of them palpably false, I believe that in every respect he has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity and with the overwhelming aim of stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives.”
Johnson had faced calls to sack his aide from members of the public, celebrities and even members of Parliament from his own party.
Steve Baker MP, Conservative member for Wycombe, was the first to break ranks and criticise the government after numerous tweets of support came out from front bench ministers.
In an article for The Critic magazine, the former minister said Cummings should stand aside after the lockdown controversy.
He wrote: “Dominic Cummings must go before he does any more harm to the UK, the government, the prime minister, our institutions or the Conservative party.
“Today’s newspapers are a disaster. Enormous political capital is being expended saving someone who has boasted of making decisions beyond his competence and who clearly broke at the very least the guidance which kept mums and dads at home, without childcare from their parents, and instead risked spreading the virus by travelling.
“It is intolerable that Boris, Boris’s government and Boris’s programme should be harmed in this way.”
Also in the briefing the PM declared the country was ready to move to step 2 of his ‘roadmap’ plans to exit lockdown, meaning schools will be able to reopen from Monday, June 1 2020.
He said: “In line with the approach being taken in many other countries, we want to start getting our children back into the classroom.”
The PM acknowledged the aim to reopen schools on that day ‘may not be possible for all schools’ but hopes all pupils will back in classrooms ‘as soon as possible’.
The PM said: “The education of children is crucial for their welfare, for their long-term future and for social justice,” he said.
“In line with the approach being taken in many other countries, we want to start getting our children back into the classroom in a way that is as manageable and as safe as possible.
“We said we would begin with early years’ settings and reception, year one, and year six in primary schools. It is our intention to go ahead with that plan on June 1, a week on Monday.”
As of today there have been a further 118 COVID-19 deaths today and reached 36,793 deaths in total in the UK.